Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (2011-05)
defense icon, source: [West Covina, California] Progressive Management, 2008

Defense: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (2011-05)

Opportunities exist to avoid unnecessary redundancies and maximize the efficient use of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Action:

The Department of Defense (DOD) should develop an integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) architecture, including manned and unmanned systems, to align departmentwide strategic goals.

Progress:

DOD has designed and begun implementing an architecture that includes ISR, called the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise, which is expected to provide a common framework of tools for security and intelligence sharing that may help to align departmentwide goals. In March 2011, GAO suggested that DOD develop this type of architecture. In April 2012, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence issued a memorandum to the secretaries of the military departments, directors of the defense intelligence agencies and Defense Information Systems Agency, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the combatant commanders that outlined a governance structure for the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise and requested their participation. The memorandum established a council that would oversee development and implementation of the enterprise. The council would also establish a framework to align some information technology systems across the intelligence community. Since 2012, DOD reported that the council had developed an architecture to align some information technology systems across the intelligence community to facilitate information sharing and the development of a common technical framework. By developing an architecture for a Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise, DOD has made it possible to identify capability gaps, prioritize investments, and realize cost efficiencies.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Department of Defense (DOD) should continue to develop tools—such as the Joint Staff’s decision support tool—and performance measures to inform investment decisions.

Progress:

DOD has developed tools and performance measures to inform investment decisions, as GAO suggested in March 2011. In November 2019, DOD released a new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) strategic roadmap, which included an ISR portfolio scorecard tool and performance measures to inform investment decisions. With the incorporation of the portfolio scorecard and performance measures in the new ISR roadmap, DOD is better positioned to reduce the likelihood of unnecessary duplication, assess the effectiveness of ISR assets, and make trade-offs among ISR capabilities.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Department of Defense (DOD) could establish linkages between intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) acquisition plans and strategic goals to better inform investment decisions.

Progress:

DOD has established linkages between ISR acquisition plans and strategic goals, as GAO suggested in March 2011. In November 2019, DOD released a new ISR strategic roadmap. The roadmap articulated the linkages between strategic goals and planned investments with the goal of enabling the department to prioritize investments, close gaps, and determine appropriate sources of ISR funding. DOD’s identification of linkages between ISR acquisition plans and strategic goals better positions the department to avoid investing in lower-priority or duplicative capabilities.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense

Action:

The Department of Defense (DOD) could develop and enforce commonality and interoperability standards for sharing of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data and establish timelines for implementation.

Progress:

DOD has taken steps to develop and implement standards for sharing ISR data, as GAO suggested in March 2011, but it has not established a means to enforce commonality and interoperability standards. In November 2019, DOD released a new ISR strategic roadmap which emphasized the importance of growing systems into the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise. DOD intends for the enterprise to promote improved interoperability and increase security across DOD's ISR enterprise. According to DOD officials, in order to enforce commonality and interoperability standards, the department must continue to mature its governance model to establish policies that optimize, secure, and leverage intelligence information as an enterprise asset. According to DOD officials, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security continues to mature governance of the Defense Intelligence Enterprise using existing coordination mechanisms.

Increased integration of DOD's ISR enterprise could improve efficiencies and reduce redundancies across the enterprise and improve interoperability among systems. However, until DOD develops a means to enforce commonality and interoperability standards to increase the sharing of ISR data, it is not best positioned to efficiently use its resources.

 

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense
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    • Joseph Kirschbaum
    • Director, Defense Capabilities and Management
    • kirschbaumj@gao.gov
    • 202-512-9971